Trends

Why enablement matters—and what it’ll cost if you ignore it

Posted on: July 18, 2023Updated on: April 17, 2024By: Maliyah Bernard

Does frontline enablement make *that big* a difference to the bottom line? Yes. That’s why we’ve created a 35-plus page ebook dedicated to everything you need to know about frontline enablement.

When done right, the investment pays off—especially if your teams struggle with communication, safety claims, turnover or performance objectives. And it’s safe to say that most businesses face at least one of these challenges at any given moment, so what was once a nice-to-have is now a business imperative.

Frontline Employee Retail Associate Enablement

The true value of frontline enablement

Frontline enablement gives workers everything they need to do the right things at the right moments, and most leaders recognize it helps them meet business objectives

Beyond that, meaningful enablement is also critically important as the frontline continues to face significant challenges, including:

  • Staffing shortages
  • The need for flexibility
  • Burnout
  • The need for empathetic leadership
  • Overburdened managers

An enabled frontline is the secret to overcoming these issues and fuelling your organization’s current and future success: our research revealed that 80% of frontline workers, managers and corporate leaders believe that effective task management can address frontline challenges and help workers thrive. 

With the right tools, resources and support, employees get a clearer picture of what’s expected of them and access to what’s needed—in the flow of work—to make it happen. This means they show up for their shift more confident and ready to help achieve your company’s goals.

Our NEW 35+ page ebook has everything you need to know about frontline enablement

4 significant benefits of frontline enablement 

1. It’s a tangible investment in your frontline—and that’s exactly what they’re looking for 

Frontline employees want to see that their employers have a vested interest in their development and that there’s room for growth in the company. If not, they’ll find something else if they hit that ceiling too early or feel their job is just about a paycheck. According to our Deskless Report, 42% of frontline workers are thinking about leaving their current roles. 

The Burning Glass Institute and the Harvard Business School’s Managing the Future of Work project revealed that “Churn & Burn” companies experiencing high turnover also typically fail to provide employees with experience and training that would help them qualify for better opportunities in the future. 

If you want to stop the revolving door, you need to make an authentic investment that shows your teams you’re dedicated to helping them reach their potential and provide the coaching and development so they can achieve it.

2. It builds a stronger connection between frontlines and business outcomes

Companies that engage their frontline workforces see two times the shareholder return. Why? Because these employees are closest to the action and your customers, putting them in the unique and valuable position of being able to solve the problems they experience firsthand. 

Although measuring the impact of activities like training and communications has historically been challenging for frontline organizations, C-suite executives still want to know how programs drive business impact and influence the KPIs that matter most to the business. And they need that information delivered promptly so these programs can continue.  

The right enablement strategy and tech give teams robust, real-time data on your people, their knowledge and confidence, their true sentiments, their assigned tasks, the outcomes they achieve and more. And integrated analytics and reporting give leaders the power to make data-driven business decisions and improve execution consistency.

There are even more tangible benefits to a fully-enabled frontline team: 

  • Bigger average basket sizes, more upselling and higher loyalty card sign-ups
  • Improved CSAT scores and more positive sentiment in customer surveys
  • Increased brand loyalty and more repeat visits
  • Reduction in safety incidents and compliance issues
  • A more engaged workforce, lower turnover and higher NPS scores 
  • Faster call resolution times and fewer escalations. 
  • Less shrink in a retail environment

3. It’s a vital tool for staying agile against ever-evolving customer expectations

According to PwC, the elements that go into delivering a good experience today are similar to what they’ve always been: “Speed. Convenience. Consistency. Friendliness. And human touch—that is, creating real connections by making technology feel more human and giving employees what they need to create better customer experiences.” 

The biggest change has come from evolving customer sophistication and expectations around things like the in-store experience. CX is likely already a top priority for your business, but does your enablement strategy teach employees how to make customers feel heard and appreciated?

71% of global consumers say they shop in physical stores as often, or even more often, than before the pandemic. Ensuring teams are trained and ready to provide friendly and knowledgeable service means they’ll be able to capitalize on these shopping trends and deliver meaningful, quality interactions that match, or ideally exceed, the consumer’s knowledge.

4. It captures valuable and elusive intel

As previously mentioned, most frontline employees act as the face of your brand, giving them rare insights into how customers react and what is (and isn’t) working in the operation. This is especially valuable to organizations focused on company-wide, consistent performance.

Of course, some frontline employees already share what they see through informal channels, like texting and WhatsApp chats, directly telling their managers what they’ve experienced. But this can put a heavy burden on these critical intermediaries and increase frustration if feedback doesn’t translate into action. When asked to rank very or extremely challenging disruptions, 33% of frontline managers and workers cited “no upward feedback,” and 40% of frontline workers say they don’t have access to strong feedback loops.

There’s an enormous opportunity here to improve this experience for everyone by allowing frontline employees to share their experiences and ideas using structured, trackable and scalable feedback. It also opens the door for employees to share the type of feedback that can lead to changes that significantly impact processes and customer experience.

While an enabled frontline looks different from one organization to the next, the benefits of introducing an effective enablement strategy are universal. Download the Everything you need to know about frontline enablement ebook to learn more.

Maliyah Bernard

Maliyah Bernard is an academic writer turned content writer. As a former frontline worker, she loves writing about all the ways organizations can support these essential workers smarter.